"Life Is Sweet" is a few days in the company of a North London family, living a seemingly simple and uncomplicated life, although not without their problems. Daughter Nicola (Jane Horrocks) is suffering from an eating disorder, and parents Andy (Jim Broadbent) and Wendy (Alison Steadman) do their best to cope with the everyday frustration of working in uninspring jobs. Despite their problems though, they are a happy family, and as a result, make for very entertaining viewing. Typical of Mike Leigh, this is a low-key affair, but the devil is in the detail as usual. And it's the nuances of the main characters that really give this film something extra. The cast is brilliant, especially Horrocks and Broadbent. Andy's happy-go-lucky antics are perfectly offset against the angst-ridden and depressed Nicola, but ultimately their family bond is strong. The supporting cast is also excellent. Stephen Rea in a rare humourous role plays Andy's drunken mate Patsy, but stock Mike Leigh actor Timothy Spall steals the show with the ridiculous Aubrey, an 'entrepenuer' who is trying to open a restaurant, but is never likely to succeed. The dialogue is natural and unforced, and you really get the feeling that the characters are real. It's a simple film, and doesn't try to be something that it's not. Unaffected and charming, and ultimately hopeful, this is a rare type of film whose subject matter is simple family life, warts and all. But with a brilliant cast and some absolutely hilarious moments and lines, "Life Is Sweet" is a joy to watch. The DVD spares little (infact nothing) in the way of extras unfortunately, but it looks and sounds so much better on DVD than VHS anyway, that its certainly worth having in this format.
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